Winnipeg is a small, multi-cultural Canadian city known for its creative spirit. It’s home to Ubisoft Winnipeg, one of the newest additions to Ubisoft’s family of Canadian studios. Ubisoft Winnipeg hosts a collection of AAA game development and programming teams dedicated to developing Ubisoft’s cutting-edge tech and engines used to create immersive and engaging worlds for many popular titles. The team of around 100 includes experts in programming, production management, quality assurance and control, production coordination, and UX design.
Learn more about the studio’s ongoing projects and meet Programmer Shital Bhutiya, who discusses the studio’s ventures in photogrammetry, innovative initiatives, and ventures in constructing gingerbread houses.
A Technological Mindset
Founded in 2018, Ubisoft Winnipeg’s team members work with the Canadian divisions of Ubisoft’s two main in-house engines – Anvil and Snowdrop – and Scalar, Ubisoft’s cloud-native computing technology. Additionally, the studio houses two large teams working on cutting-edge technology pushing the boundaries of game design and creation possibilities, working on what Ubisoft games of the future will offer players. Ubisoft Winnipeg teams have utilized their technological prowess on several titles, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6, Roller Champions, Watch Dogs: Legion, and the upcoming Rainbow Six Mobile.
First created for use in the original Assassin’s Creed title, Anvil helped define Ubisoft’s open-world video game standard. Designed to be modular and fit any project, the game engine has since been used for several titles at Ubisoft studios around the world. Ubisoft Winnipeg’s Anvil teams are working to introduce new platforms to the game engine to reach even more players around the world.
Ubisoft Winnipeg team members are also dedicated to working with Snowdrop, a Ubisoft engine that enables content creators to set their minds free with fast, flexible, and innovative tools designed for creating the unknown from the ground up. The Ubisoft Winnipeg Snowdrop team works to share tools and technologies developed among various Snowdrop productions.
The studio is also home to a newly-created Ubisoft Scalar team. This cloud computing technology allows for a virtually unlimited amount of power, running everything from virtual worlds of unprecedented scale and depth to vastly detailed simulations that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Innovative Collaboration and Shared Knowledge
As a way to challenge team members’ creativity and innovative thinking, Ubisoft Winnipeg hosts a bi-monthly Innovation Jam, where team members from around the studio brainstorm ideas for fresh technological approaches and tools to solve the industry’s most pressing problems. Team members work together to find solutions to aid Ubisoft’s creative, production, programming, design, and automation teams and work hand-in-hand with development partners to bring ideas to life. Ubisoft Winnipeg’s first Jam in 2019 led to the kickoff of 18 projects around the studio and was capped off with an online showcase.
One of the studio’s recent Innovation Jams happened on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, showcasing work being done by Ubisoft studios around the world to create accessible, innovative technology and tools to reduce barriers in games and open them to a wider range of audiences. A recent project from this event featured work aimed at reducing barriers for colorblind players that was incorporated into Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and will also be featured in upcoming games. The Innovation Jam has now attracted other Ubisoft teams to partner and participate in the Jam, including Ubisoft La Forge, a group of research and development teams that bring together experts from the game industry and the academic sector to create prototypes for use on various Ubisoft projects and educational initiatives.
To highlight Ubisoft’s advancements in game development and machine learning, Ubisoft Winnipeg team members have been featured as speakers at the Game Developers Conference - the industry’s foremost developer event. In 2021, Ubisoft Winnipeg speakers discussed project management techniques in the gaming industry, and in 2022, senior programmers attended the event to discuss Ubisoft’s work in machine learning and AAA titles.
STEM Education and Inclusion in the Local Community
Ubisoft Winnipeg team members have a long history of volunteering in the local community, including partnerships with the Women in Computer Science and computer science student associations at the University of Manitoba. Studio team members have also mentored students through Winnipeg’s Sisler High School CREATE program, which provides high school and post-high students with education and career pathways to creative industries in Canada. As part of an ongoing collaboration with New Media Manitoba, Ubisoft Winnipeg team members also acted as mentors for an advanced game camp, helping students learn the basics of video game creation.
Ubisoft Winnipeg has also been recognized as a great place to work, especially with regards to the inclusion of underrepresented groups in the gaming industry. The studio was recently nominated by CPHR Manitoba for two Excellence in HR awards for their efforts in promoting the careers of women in technology: The Ascent Award, celebrating investments in leadership and talent development, and the Unity Award, acknowledging diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility in the workplace.
The Nova: Women in Tech Summit calls Ubisoft Winnipeg home. Studio team members have met with community researchers and educators for a series of keynote speeches about ensuring equal opportunities for and empowering women in STEM careers throughout Manitoba. The summit partnered with the University of Winnipeg to share presentations and group sessions about evolving women’s careers and early education about STEM topics.
Don’t just take our word for it! Meet Shital Bhutiya, Ubisoft Winnipeg Generalist Programmer working as a part of the Technology Group. She’s lead of the studio’s Women Advisory Board, one of four employee resource groups that supports Ubisoft Winnipeg's commitment towards diversity, inclusion, and reducing the unique barriers women face in pursuit of careers in technology.
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on recently? Shital Bhutiya: Since joining Ubisoft Winnipeg, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects. I enjoyed working on our photogrammetry tool which creates 3D renders of objects based off details gathered by multiple photographs of that object. Often, the software required to create these 3D renders requires the purchasing of expensive licenses. However, the Photogrammetry tool allows us to upload 360° photographs of objects that can be directly used in the game at no cost. This technology will give Ubisoft team members more freedom to easily create 3D models of real-world objects like rocks, trees, and even animals. The tool is very simple to use, even team members with no experience with similar software have been able to successfully create a perfect 3D render! That’s the reason it’s one of my favorite projects: It’s a simple solution for a complex issue.
We achieved success on this project by having great leadership, collaboration between team members, and support from experts in the studio. They taught me a lot and I got to work with some really talented people!
What projects are you working on now? SB: I'm currently working as a full stack developer and leading some feature implementations on the project that lets artists design steps for creating assets. It's a node graph editor in which artists lay out steps as a pipeline for any asset type.
Imagine an artist has an asset called "Character" that they would like to use in a game. It will take a lot of steps and processes to make that asset, such as choosing the right skin texture and material based on that texture, making a 3D object, adding motion, etc. To accomplish all steps for creating a character, an artist will create a workflow so that no step gets missed. That’s where our tool node graph editor will help managers create a workflow of the process using the nodes in our node graph editor. Each node will perform some sort of action or event based on its type.
In these projects, the biggest challenge is learning new things, as our users sometimes request complex features that require more technical knowledge. Therefore, we need to carry out research and development, but we have experts in the studio who help us when we need additional resources.
What about being at the Winnipeg studio inspires you creatively? SB: Ubisoft Winnipeg is an innovative studio where I work on not only my regular projects, but also my crazy ideas that I always wanted to build! The studio’s Innovation Jams give all team members a chance to practice innovating and getting ahead on upcoming tech. It can be challenging to do something new and unique if you are working on big project with large code base, but trying something new at an Innovation Jam lets us see whether it's worth moving to a real project or not.
What’s the best internal studio event you participated in? SB: My favorite event is Holiday Cheer Week. It's a week-long celebration that features surprises and fun activities to complete together with colleagues, including decorating a Christmas tree, enjoying waffle and pancake breakfasts, participating in fun quizzes to win prizes, and building gingerbread houses! We also have a lot of events during the year, including special activities to welcome newbies like bike rides and hikes.
Can you describe the vibe of the Winnipeg studio in one word? SB: Innovative!
Interested in Joining? Ubisoft Winnipeg is on the hunt for talented developers, production coordinators, programmers, and UX designers to help grow the studio’s Snowdrop, Anvil, and Scalar teams. Located in one of Canada’s top cities for game development talent, Ubisoft Winnipeg is the perfect studio to develop a creative and tech-forward approach to game development.